by Darrin Schenck


by Darrin Schenck


The Secret to Life is Freedom.  The Secret to Freedom is Courage.

I am a staunch believer in this concept, and I am fortunate enough to say that I know that it is true, as I have lived it.  At this point in my life there are very few things I could point to and say something like: “Oh man, if only I would have tried that…”  I strongly suggest that you live a life that will allow you the same luxury when you are in your fifties and beyond that I have.  The window of time is always closing, and there is no tomorrow in many cases.  Allow me to share an example…

At the end of my Pro Racquetball career I was looking for what I was going to do in the next phase of my life.  I was offered a job at a Behavioral Optometrist’s office; they had a Sports Vision Therapy program that I had been a client of and they were looking to expand their foothold in the local market of working with high profile athletes.  There are lots of other details, but here is the crux of the story:

I had two choices:

  1.  Give into the fears and concerns of not knowing anything about the program, how to build it or even how to promote it to other athletes and find a different job


2. Dive in, be thankful for the opportunity and trust myself to figure it out as I go.

I chose Number 2, as there were a few “givens” along with this.  One was, I was being paid a salary for the job, so I did not have a lot of personal risk on the line.  Secondly, this was a well-established medical practice, so we had some leeway to build this portion of the business slowly, without risking the whole thing crumbling.  Once again I chose to have the courage to face the unknown and believe in myself to be able to figure things out eventually.  I had a track record of this by now, having done the same thing to try making the varsity wrestling team my freshman year of high school, pivot to the sport of racquetball after a neck injury ended my wrestling pursuits, and a few other examples.  I read this quote somewhere a long time ago, and I have lived this way ever since:

You can eat an elephant if you do it a bite at a time

This philosophy summarizes a lot of my thought process when it comes to things that scare me.  Courage is the key to freedom, and freedom is the key to a happy life.  I now have so much freedom that many of my friends are jealous of my lifestyle.  Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been an easy path to get here, but I have earned my way to the life I have.  I am very good at my job, and I am convinced there are few others in my industry that could step into my shoes and have similar success.  I have built an empire in a nihe business that allows me a huge amount of freedom.  I earned this because I was courageous enough to stick it out through the hard times (5 years worth) until we hit a tipping point in the business.  From that point forward, it has felt much more like a downriver swim most days.

Another example of courage creating freedom would be me undertaking Public Speaking.  I had no idea exactly how to do Public Speaking when I made the decision to pursue this.  Oddly enough, the impetus for me getting started with this was surviving a head on collision with a wrong way drunk driver.  After finding my way to MADD, I became a Victim Impact Panel speaker, sharing my story at MADD events to help others understand the ramifications of impaired driving on everyone, not just themselves.  This was a great place to start, and I have expanded out from this one topic to sharing many of my experiences for an ever-widening audience.  Life throws all of us a curveball or two; how you handle it is up to you.  You can allow things like this to shut you down, or it can open you up to new and different opportunities.

Because of this approach, my freedoms extend into several realms.  My wife and I are working towards paying off our house, which would unlock yet another level of freedom.  This would reduce our household bills to literally just food, utilities and monthly subscriptions.  Think of how much easier life would be without the financial commitments of a mortgage, a car payment or two, and many other burdens.  We want freedom, the freedom to have as many meaningful and memorable experiences together.  Maybe this will include buying an RV an traveling extensively throughout the US.  It could take the form of more world travels.  We have not decided, as we are not quite there just yet.  But in the next five years, we will be.  This is not by accident, this is because of courageous moments like my wife decided to go to nursing school at age 40.  At one point early on in the business, the four managers of the company all took pay cuts of 50% to try to keep things going.  This was supposed to be for three months, which grew to 18.  I was making half of what would be considered a decent base salary and had no commission structure at all.  But by sticking with the job I have through the tough times, I am now 11 years in and a go-to resource for my industry.  Needless to say, the compensation grew accordingly.

While I do not advocate for everyone to throw caution to the wind, selling everything you own and invest in cryptocurrency, start a business, or whatever you may be thinking.  BUT I AM ALSO NOT saying to avoid this either.  The younger you are, the easier it will be to pivot or recover from a crazy idea that you pursued if it does not work out the way you planned.  You need a plan, and calculated approach, and ideally a safety net of some sorts, even if that is just family or friends to rely on while you dust off and get your feet under you once again.  Don’t go into something you haven’t put a bunch of thought into and expect to figure everything out along the way, especially when it comes to starting a company.  If you take on other people’s money and have people quit jobs to come work for you, it is expected that you have some level of knowledge and ability to secure their paychecks for quite some time.  It is a rough road being an entrepreneur and business owner, so consider everything that goes with it, not just a (highly unlikely) successful exit at the end of a five year run.  As I mentioned, the company I am with is eleven years in, and just now really hitting it stride financially.

As with anything, there is a balance to be had:

  • Be courageous, but not reckless
  • Believe in yourself, but know that you will need help from others along the way
  • Seek Freedom as a life goal instead of material things
  • Think, plan, but most importantly…ACT!

When you are laying on your deathbed reviewing your life, I want you to have the same luxury I will…no regrets.


I wish you luck in your endeavors

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